If there is one thing I hate it is music that is artsy for the sake of being artsy. That has never been a criticism of Foxygen for me. Although they could certainly be considered experimental their strong pop songwriting meant that whether they were aping Lou Reed or Ariel Pink, they were being catchy about it. That seems to shift on their third full length album, …And Star Power and the shift is dramatic.
Although listed as having 24 tracks, …And Star Power probably contains a handful of fully fleshed out tracks and a series of snippets of things that are defying you to listen to them, let alone like them. Sure, lead single “How Can You Really” is a song of the year candidate. Its 70s AM radio pop sound is reminiscent of classic Fleetwood Mac. If the entire LP sounded like “How Can You Really,” we would have an album of the year candidate; instead “How Can You Really” is one of the few tracks on the album that seems to intentionally have a beginning and an end.
The rest of the album is held together by random noise, vocal snippets, and ambient noises that work as intros and outro for the tracks. Take “Cold Winter/Freedom” for example. Introed with some dialog that sounds like children talking into a cassette recorder, the audience is treated to three straight minutes of horrendous noise that might be bass feedback or perhaps a keyboard malfunctioning. Then an actual song seems to breakout but quickly devolves into a noisy, abrasive guitar solo before stopping suddenly to the sound of ranting from someone who is talking about dead dogs floating around in space listening to Led Zeppelin.
“Talk” starts off with the sound of someone eating chips before a drummer counts off. A great guitar riff and spares lyrical yowls proliferate the song but as it goes on, it keeps devolving into madness. The yowls become more prominent, more abrasive, and more exaggerated until the song mercifully ends.
Unfortunately, “Talk” is really a microcosm of …And Star Power. The album is more abrasive and more exaggerated than anything previously heard from the band. It is an album that defies you to enjoy it and unfortunately save for “How Can You Really,” I could find no enjoyment at all in the record.